Athletic produce solid showing in opening win

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A solid performance away from home saw Bedford Athletic open their account in Midlands One East with a 27-19 win at Belgrave.

A combination of pace and purpose in the first half, together with grit and determination in the second, saw the side through to a four try bonus point victory.

The start was ideal for the visitors as early pressure in the first 90 seconds saw Belgrave lose a lineout, concede a scrum and then a try as Stephen Woodhead cut a simple line off fly-half James Mortimer to touch down beside the posts. Mortimer added the conversion.

The pace and strength of the backs was epitomised minutes later as Charlie Darlow became the beneficiary, first gliding and then muscling his way through the defence for a second try.

Athletic’s dominance of this period was almost total and Mortimer dropped a goal to make it 15-0.

Thereafter sloppiness set in and moves became poorly executed in midfield, or good scrambling defence frustrated further chances.

Belgrave did lose both Kevin Curtis and Jack Kyle to the sin bin and Athletic capitalised again when Nick Thomas was driven over on the half hour mark.

The errors creeping into the visitors’ game were due to be punished, however, and a dropped ball in midfield eventually led to a Belgrave catch and drive from a line out and a try from Craig Jackson converted by Curtis to make the score 20-7 at the break.

The visitors failed to impose themselves at the start of the second half and had to work hard to survive the sin binning of Will Simpson and a series of forward drives from the home pack.

However, when they had the chance to break out of their own half they were clinical and, on 57 minutes, Mortimer kicked deep to set up the field position, the pack drove the ball forward and Tom Dolemore went over for the bonus point try converted by Mortimer for a commanding 27-7 lead.

Belgrave then scored a second try of their own through Adam Ord, with Curtis’ conversion making a game of it at 27-14.

Athletic were hit with injuries to Sheldon Reynecke, Nick Thomas and Ben Middleton, causing serious disruption to their pack and Belgrave were able to make inroads.

The visiting defence held firm until the final play of the game when Robert Kyle piled over.